Safe Sleep for Baby

By Uncategorized

HMHB has a long running program called SafeSleep for Baby which provides Pack ‘n’ Play Playards and safe sleep materials at no cost to families in need. When a family is identified, local public health departments or early childhood specialists make a referral to the program and Terry places the order for the Safe Sleep Kit.  This program provides approximately 130 cribs per year to Montana families in need of a safe sleeping environment for their babies.           

A recent partnership between DPHHS Family and Community Health Division, The Montana Children’s Trust Fund and the Montana Department of Justice will allow HMHB to send greatly expand the number of kits distributed.  This will also allow sites to store safe sleep kits on site, removing the timing lag between identifying the need for a safer sleep environment and orders being fulfilled and shipped.  In November HMHB surveyed a broad array of possible recipients including Child and Family Services, public health departments and home visitors.  Responses to the survey have been very enthusiastic and we are shooting to order 250 cribs by the end of the year!

Building Bridges for Better Births Year 2 (B4)

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In August 2018, HMHB was awarded a second year of funding from the Montana Healthcare Foundation (MHCF) to assist in building community connections to support MHCF’s Perinatal Substance Use Disorder (SUDs) Initiative.  Grantees of the initiative will be integrating behavioral health (IBH) services into OB/GYN care across the state. These efforts to improve perinatal behavioral health care got a shot in the arm in November when DPHHS received a $3.2 million dollar HRSA grant that will expand current grantee sites across the state.   HMHB is delighted to continue these efforts at new sites. More info found at:

Independent Record’s 20 Under 40 – Brie Oliver: Executive director, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition

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Research professor Brené Brown said, “We don’t have to do all of it alone. We were never meant to.”

Brie Oliver, executive director for Montana’s Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB), reiterates the same message daily to mothers in the Helena community.

A Helena native, 37-year-old Oliver pursued a nursing degree from Montana State University. During her clinicals, Oliver observed the epidemic of chronic health care needs. She decided then and there that she wanted her future work to focus on preventative health care. More specifically, she sought to apply a “multi-generational approach” by focusing on achieving healthy pregnancies for moms and healthy early childhoods for babies.

Since stepping up as director, Oliver admits learning a lot and broadening her scope into the larger statewide system.

“I became aware of the system problems in the community that kept families from being successful,” said Oliver.

While she has only been in the director role for about a year, Oliver has been hard at work. From advocating for the health and wellbeing of children and mothers, facilitating statewide conversations to improve resources and support systems and securing funds to make those resources a reality, she’s left her mark on the community.

“She is adept at bringing people to the table to facilitate how we can uplift the most vulnerable in our community,” said Sarah Crowley, home visiting program supervisor for Lewis and Clark County.

“She is a fierce advocate for family wellness and is a shining light of hope for families in need,” said Katie Bevan, a home visiting nurse for Lewis and Clark County.

According to Trina Filan, community impact coordinator for United Way, Oliver was responsible for the founding of the Home Visiting Task Force and Maternal Mental Health Task Force. Oliver has also worked to coordinate opportunities for early childhood coalitions across Montana to join efforts for shared funding, expertise and advocacy.

For Oliver, the reality of her accomplishments thus far comes down simply to building relationships — among experts in the field, and between mothers bringing new life into the world.

“By building a community of mothers who have themselves experienced postpartum depression and connecting them with supportive resources, we are taking the layers of shame and blame off,” said Oliver. “I want to make sure the next mom is nurtured and supported in a way that allows her to know that she will get better.”

“We all come into motherhood at different places of support and resources,” shared Oliver. “There’s always room to learn from each other.”

Written by LACEY MIDDLESTEAD For the Independent Record

Photo by Thom Bridge


By Archives, Published Work
Aug. 14, 2017

Helena, MT – Research demonstrates that for children to thrive, they require safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments. That’s Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies’ specialty, and it’s why Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) is entrusting the national nonprofit organization’s Montana Coalition with a $50,000 Healthy Kids, Healthy Families grant.

“I am thrilled. I am shaky with excitement, and I cannot wait to get started on this work,” Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Executive Director Brie Oliver said after being surprised with the grant Monday, Aug. 14 at BCBSMT’s Helena headquarters. “I know how much women in Montana agree this is a needed project.”


Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies aims to improve the health, safety and well-being of Montana families by supporting mothers and babies, ages 0 to 3. With the money from the grant, organizers intend to partner with three communities to better link parents of new infants to supportive community resources to help more children live in safe and nurturing environments. In each of those three communities, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies will partner with local organizations to build a network of support for these new families, which evidence supports reduces the likelihood of abuse and neglect. These efforts by Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies fall in line with HKHF goals.


“Blue Cross and Blue Shield (of Montana) is a huge partner in this for us,” Oliver added. “The fact that they are touching so many lives with health care and their concern for prevention is huge, and we’re just thrilled to go with them on this journey.”


HKHF is a signature program of BCBSMT and part of an ongoing commitment to invest in and partner with nonprofit organizations that offer sustainable, measurable programs to reach children and their families in the five following areas: nutrition, physical activity, disease prevention and management, supporting safe environments, and suicide prevention. The $50,000 HKHF grant is one of four BCBSMT awards each year.


“Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies is an incredible organization that provides critical support systems in our communities,” said John Doran, Divisional Vice President of External Affairs and Chief of Staff at BCBSMT. “They provide the stable foundation that young mothers and their babies need to live a healthier, happier life.”


Officials with Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies say the grant will round out the organization’s work that focuses on prevention of childhood maltreatment and parental substance abuse by improving the screening and treatment of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders, while connecting new parents to community and support resources.


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) is a division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSMT is the largest and longest-standing statewide, customer-owned health insurer and full-service health benefits administrator in Montana. BCBSMT believes that Montana consumers and employers deserve the best of both worlds — access to quality, cost-effective health care and superior customer service from a company that focuses solely on members. BCBSMT has provided high-quality health insurance plans and administrative services to Montanans for nearly 77 years. BCBSMT is committed to ensuring its members — no matter where they are on the health spectrum — achieve maximum health. BCBSMT’s mission is to stand with its members in sickness and in health. BCBSMT’s website is


Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies

Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies, The Montana Coalition, Inc. (HMHB) was founded in 1984 by a pediatrician and a group of health professionals. It was based on the national Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies model and has worked for over 30 years to improve maternal and child health in Montana. Throughout the years, HMHB has developed allied organizations such as the Montana Children’s Alliance, The Montana Council for Maternal and Child Health, and more recently the Montana Early Childhood Coalition. HMHB is widely known throughout Montana as the advocacy voice for mothers and infants. HMHB was created to be the leading state-wide non-profit to improve pregnancy and early childhood outcomes and it remains in that role, as the sole non-profit with a zero (includes pregnancy) to three focus in Montana. HMHB’s website is

Great Falls Tribune: Hospitals give $80,000 to shaken baby prevention program

By advocacy, Archives, Parenting, Published Work
Written by Amy Beth Hanson

HELENA (AP) – Hospitals around the state are donating more than $80,000 to Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies so the organization can continue an education program aimed at preventing shaken baby injuries and deaths after a state board decided not to renew its funding.

Clementine Lindley, the vice chair of the Montana Children’s Trust Fund board, said board members voted unanimously in June not to renew the contract with Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies to implement the Period of PURPLE Crying education program. The goal of the program is to educate parents and caregivers about an infant’s crying, ways to avoid frustration and the dangers of shaking a baby.

Lindley said the board has decided to see if the work can be improved under another program before awarding the funding.

“PURPLE is one of the best evidence-based programs in America,” said Judy Edwards, executive director of Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies, The Montana Coalition. She noted the Department of Public Health and Human Services was part of the decision to use the program.

There were several issues with the grant application, Lindley said, including failing to achieve promised outcomes and not proposing a sustainability plan.

Jen Shaw, program manager for Healthy Mothers Heathy Babies, said Thursday the program went from reaching over 60 percent of the hospital births in Montana to over 90 percent after adding three major hospitals to its network. The organization did propose a sustainability plan, which included continued funding from the Montana Children’s Trust Fund along with fundraising and pursuing other grants, Shaw said.

“We want to have a positive relationship with the Children’s Trust Fund” and continue working to help children, Shaw said. “We’ve been trying to keep that the focus.”

State law requires there to be an education program to prevent shaken baby syndrome. The trust fund is required to support child abuse and neglect prevention programs.

DPHHS will meet the law’s education requirements while a new program is being considered, agency spokesman Jon Ebelt said.

Meanwhile, Healthy Mothers Heathy Babies will continue its work with the help of $10,000 donations from hospitals in Helena, Great Falls, Bozeman and Kalispell along with both hospitals in Billings and both in Missoula. The donation from St. Peter’s Hospital was made to the organization Thursday morning in Helena.

Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies, The Montana Coalition works with 23 hospitals to provide PURPLE education, Shaw said. The program uses the letters of the word PURPLE to inform families that the “peak” of a baby’s crying is around the second month, it can be “unexpected,” it “resists” soothing, a baby can look like they’re in “pain,” the crying can be “long-lasting” and that babies may cry more in the afternoon and “evening.”

Edwards said she first contacted St. Peter’s Hospital President and CEO Nate Olson about Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies’ loss of funding. He said he emailed other hospitals and they soon had pledged $80,000 to help fund the program.

“The children of our community are too important to sit back and allow these preventable tragedies to continue to happen,” Olson said in a statement.

Edwards said she’s not aware of any hospitals that have been contacted by the state about a change in providers for the shaken baby education program.